In an exclusive interview, the Rev. Billy Graham tells Newsmax that President Obama’s “hope and change” mantra is nothing more than a cliché and warns that the nation faces increasing threats to civil and religious liberties from its government.
Graham, who is preparing for possibly his last crusade, this time via video, said America is drenched in a “sea of immorality” and suggested that the second coming of Christ is “near.”
Graham, who turns 95 in November, and just published his book, “The Reason for My Hope: Salvation,” was asked whether he believes the government may be so large and powerful, in light of the pervasive collection and monitoring of digital communications, that it becomes an inherent threat to basic human liberties.
“Our early fathers led our nation according to biblical principles,” Graham wrote in response. “‘Hope and change’ has become a cliché in our nation, and it is daunting to think that any American could hope for change from what God has blessed,” he stated, an obvious reference to President Obama’s campaign motto.
“Our country is turning away from what has made it so great,” he continued, “but far greater than the government knowing our every move that could lead to losing our freedom to worship God publicly, is to know that God knows our every thought; he knows our hearts need transformation.”
Graham continues to share his message of God’s love, a message he has imparted faithfully for decades, despite faltering health in recent years.
He was hospitalized for pneumonia in 2011 and again last year due to a lung infection. He held his first crusade in September 1947, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He would go on to present over 400 crusades in 185 countries. But in the United States, he has probably received the most media attention for his role as a spiritual adviser to many presidents.
To say Graham’s ministry has had a far-flung impact would be an understatement. His staff has estimated that Graham led some 3.2 million people to faith in Christ.
When he made Gallup’s top 10 list of Most Admired Men in January, it marked the 56th time he made the list since 1955 — more than anyone else.
But perhaps his greatest legacy will be the members of his own family who carry on the spiritual tradition he established in 1950 when he founded the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA).
They include son Franklin Graham, president and CEO of the BGEA, and also the global Samaritan’s Purse charitable ministry.
Many believing Christians believe in a coming Armageddon, a final battle between good and evil prophesied in the book of Revelation.
Graham tells Newsmax it is not wise to “speculate” about the dates of such a battle, but he adds that the Bible says that there “will be signs pointing toward the return of the Lord.”
“I believe all of these signs are evident today,” Graham wrote, adding that “the return of Christ is near.
“Regardless of what society says, we cannot go on much longer in the sea of immorality without judgment coming,” he says.
Graham’s ministry work continues at a tireless pace, one that many would consider miraculous. This month, Graham is launching a video series that will be part of a national Gospel-presentation program called “My Hope America.”
Graham shared with Newsmax that “My Hope America” may be his last Gospel outreach.
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“It could perhaps be my last message,” he wrote, “which is this: Christ is our hope for today and our promise for tomorrow. And it is fulfilled in the great work he did for mankind on the cross when he paid the penalty for our sin.”
Full Interview Follows:
Newsmax: Since your first crusade in Grand Rapids, Mich., in 1947, traditional moral standards in America have changed radically, with attacks on traditional marriage and abortion and divorce. In an increasingly secular world, can even non-believers find ‘hope’ – to borrow a word from your book title?
Rev. Billy Graham: Absolutely non-believers can find hope, because all people have sinned and come short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). But the Bible also tells us that God our Savior desires all people to be saved and to come into the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4 NKJV). Real hope is found only in the God of hope. To demonstrate this to mankind, He sent His only Son to earth to bring redemption to people’s souls. God stands by ready to grant salvation to all who believe in Him. ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only [Son], that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life’ (John 3:16 NKJV). Do not miss the importance of this wonderful phrase ‘in Him.’ When we step into an airplane, fasten our seatbelts and the wheels leave the runway, we have placed our physical being and our complete faith not only in the aircraft, but in the pilot and crew. When we receive salvation offered to us by Jesus Christ, we are committing our entire being—our physical, emotional, and spiritual life — to Him because we put our faith in Him — in everything He has said, done, and promised.
What is the biggest spiritual danger America currently faces?
There was a headline recently about more Americans tailoring religion to fit their needs; mixing a little Christianity with the religions of the world. It is called a ‘trendy faith.’ Society does not object to this kind of faith. We have dismissed God, resulting in skewed thinking and consciences that are desensitized to right and wrong, basing moral decisions solely on what ‘fits in’ with our individual preferences. I watch the news daily and my heart is burdened. When I hear despair in people’s voices, when I see the turmoil on their faces, it tells me that hopelessness abounds. This is my reason for writing the book, to proclaim that there is a way out and it is through Jesus Christ who came to save us from self-destruction. People go on a search for anything but God. Many people do not want to face the truth of the Gospel. They water it down to a myth, causing young and old to doubt the authority of the Bible. We as a nation have turned our back on God who blessed our country because its fundamental principles were grounded in the Word of God. People want designer religion, but I pray that they instead will submit to their Creator who longs to become their God and Savior. He has designed eternal life in Heaven for all those who receive His salvation.
One chapter in your book is titled “He Is Coming Back.” Do you think the biblical requirements of the End Times have largely been fulfilled, and are we on the verge of an “Armageddon” event that may presage the return of Jesus?
While we are told not to speculate about dates, God keeps His promises and this is why we can be sure that the return of Christ is near. Scripture tells us that there will be signs pointing toward the return of the Lord. I believe all of these signs are evident today. What a time to take the news of the day in one hand and the Bible in the other and watch the unfolding of the great drama of the ages come together. I would not want to live in any other time. The Bible speaks powerfully of trouble ahead with storm warnings that carry a booming jolt of truth. Regardless of what society says, we cannot go on much longer in the sea of immorality without judgment coming. We are at a crossroads, and there are profound moral issues at stake. It is time to return to biblical truth. The warning is clear; prepare to meet thy God—followed by the voice of the gentle Shepherd—the Lord Jesus—saying, ‘Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest’ (Matthew 11:28 NKJV). A new world is coming. It is time for the people of the world to turn to God.
You’ve visited many presidents, and prayed with them in many different circumstances. Which U.S. president would you hold up as the best example for other Christians to emulate, in terms of their personal standards, moral conduct, and heart for God?
I have tried to be a pastor to each of the 12 U. S. presidents I have had the privilege of knowing personally, but I would never single one of them out. They are just ordinary people, most of whom are seeking to talk to somebody who won’t quote them; whom they can trust and have prayer with. They are searching for something to hold on to, something that can give them an anchor in the midst of this turbulent world or the latest political crisis they find themselves in. It is a lonely place to be in that level of leadership, and I have always encouraged people to pray for them, asking that they seek God’s wisdom and do His will.
Your ministry, and the faith that your children and grandchildren continue to champion today, have touched millions and millions of lives in a powerful way all across the globe. If you had one last message to share with them, one final word you would love for them to engrave on their hearts and never forget, what would you say?
This is exactly why I have written the book [The Reason for My Hope: Salvation] and why our ministry is launching ‘My Hope America’ television program this November. It could perhaps be my last message which is this — Christ is our hope for today and our promise for tomorrow — and it is fulfilled in the great work He did for mankind on the cross when He paid the penalty for our sin. He offers salvation to those who will ‘come’ to Him, believe in what He has done and what He has said, and obediently follow Him. I’ve never known anyone to come to Christ and ever regret it.
We’ve recently learned the federal government is tracking every letter mailed, every phone call made, every email sent. Is there a point at which a government can become so large and powerful that it inherently threatens basic human freedoms, such as the freedom of religion?
Americans have always fought for freedom. This is why America was founded — to worship the one true God openly with no fear of tyranny. Our early fathers led our nation according to Biblical principles. Hope and change has become a cliché in our nation and it is daunting to think that any American could hope for change from what God has blessed. Our country is turning away from what has made it so great, but far greater than the government knowing our every move that could lead to losing our freedom to worship God publicly is to know that God knows our every thought; He knows our hearts need transformation. The human heart can be changed only by the power of God. Hope is certain only through His Son Jesus Christ — not in the change agents of the world, and when the end of the world as we know it takes place at Christ’s return, no government can prevent it and no individual can escape it. Those who hope for it will welcome it; those who refuse to embrace its reality will never change its certainty.